Registration fees are hidden in your new car

google built in on gmc acadia

I just posted a TikTok video about the 2025 Toyota Camry and two things I didn't like – one of them is that the subscription fee will start after the free trial to use features like traffic assistance and real-time traffic. The video went viral, and people seemed surprised that new cars have registration fees after spending tens of thousands of dollars on the initial purchase.

So, I'm here to tell you, yes, your new car will probably offer you features for a fee. No, you don't have to sign up, but automakers are making money (literally) because you'll be addicted to a feature and shell out $15 to $40 a month to keep those features.

So, here's a look at some of the most popular features with free trials that come with a subscription.

Early registration fees far away?

Much of the hype around registration fees started when Toyota removed the remote start button from its key fob and made it an app-only feature. Remote Start is part of the “Remote Connect” package included in the “Go Anywhere” subscription, which is $15 per month. Mazda is another automaker that doesn't have a remote start button on its fob. You'll get connected services in your MyMazda app for free for three years, then a monthly or annual fee. I couldn't find an outline of Mazda's plan but I saw a post on the CX-30 forum that said the two-year registration fee would be $425.

Although many car manufacturers still have a remote start button on their fobs, it means you have to be close to your car to start it. If you want to start heating your car on a cold day from where you are sleeping, it will be in the app, and there may be a fee for that.

Hands-free driving is a double entendre

Hands-free driving technology is interesting because the automaker charges twice as much for these features. Take, for example, the new Chevrolet Traverse. You can get Super Cruise on the LT trim ($43,395) as part of a $3,280 package – so you're paying for the hardware. Then, after the three-year trial, if you want to keep this hands-free capability, you'll have to pay $25 a month. The Ford F-150 comes with Blue Cruise equipped XLT trim ($47,730), but you only get 90 days free, and it's $75 a month or $800 a year to keep it. Gulp. The Ram 1500 got hands-free driving assistance for 2025, but it's only available starting on the Limited trim ($75,450), and you still need to add a $4,415 package to get it and pay for the Ram Connect Assistance and Navigation Package. for $24.98 per month or $274.78 per year after a three-month trial.

Google's built-in and real-time traffic is not free

One of the newest trends we're seeing is automakers using the Android Automotive Operating System, or as automakers like to call it “Google Built-In” (pictured above on the 2024 GMC Acadia). This means you have access to the Google Play Store, Assistant, Maps and other apps by signing in to your personal Google account in the car. This gives you real-time traffic updates, voice-activated HVAC controls and other great features. But, after the free trial, it is paid again. And, here's the bad thing about this one: Nobody seems to know how much it's going to pay. Volvo has just started putting it in cars and is offering a three-year trial. General Motors also accepts it, and offers a three-year trial on gas vehicles and an eight-year trial on EVs. But no one named the subscription fee once the trial is over. To add insult to injury, GM is removing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from its EVs, so if you're not diligent about signing up, you won't have map access or navigation after eight years.

If you don't have Google built-in, it's very likely that the native system in the car offers some kind of real-time traffic, and yes, there is a fee for that. Stellantis Cars (Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat), for example, charges $9.99 monthly or $109.89 annually for a connected navigation system. Going back to Toyota, connected navigation is included in its $15 per month “Go Anywhere” plan.

A digital key is usually more

One of the new features you're starting to see come online with cars is the idea that your phone can be used as a key. Most car manufacturers simply call it a Digital Key but we have also seen a phone as a key being used. The idea is that you can leave your key fob and with a Bluetooth connection, your car will hear your phone and allow you to turn it on and start it by placing your phone on your person. It also allows you to transfer the key via email or text message to another person.

But, yes, most car manufacturers include this in some kind of subscription program for connected services. Toyota, for example, includes this as part of its Remote Connect package, which starts at $15 a month. Interestingly, the Digital Key for Hyundai, Kia and Genesis cars is free for original owners, but money will be given to second-hand owners.

WiFi hotspots always add fees

And while some features come free for the life of the car, there's a big caveat: You'll need a WiFi connection in the car to activate them. So, even if you escape an app or feature payment, you're still participating in something.

An important point

This is a fact of life in a tech-forward society. People often pay subscriptions to stream videos and music, to access exercise apps and meditation guides. Automakers are betting you'll pay for convenience in cars, too. If you are offended by that idea, don't pay the fees. But, unfortunately, he will be left behind in the technological arena.

So, the lesson of the story: If you're buying a new car in 2024, ask about registration fees and free tests before you buy. If the seller is cagey or unresponsive, that's a red flag. And if registration fees are TBD, buyer beware because you never know what you'll be in line for.

Source link